The blurb on the cover of this novel compares it to Patti Smith’s memoir, Just Kids, and that’s what drew me to it as well as the basic concept—an indie musician is trying to jumpstart her career after a second album slump. Anna Brundage is said musician, who I picture as looking something like Neko Case but who is not nearly as endearingly goofy or as attached to animals as Case is. Anna is the daughter of a famous conceptual artist, who created giant art installations where he split apart things like prisons and bridges and trains. She was an indie darling for a time but after spending the last few years teaching music in a private school in New York, she puts money together, records an album, and goes on tour.
The novel follows her from city to city of her European tour but also ducks and weaves back in time to both her childhood and earlier tour experiences. There are relationships both personal and musical that bloom and explode. There are lots of drugs taken, band fights resolved, and moments of strangeness. There was a sort of vague dreaminess to this whole novel that kept me from fully connecting with Anna as a person and a musician. There’s a lot here about art and it’s power to elevate and separate and while I found it all interesting, this book never moved from my head to my heart (which is where Just Kids fully lodged, by the way).
Though I’m not sorry I read this novel, it made me even more excited to tackle the pile of music-related memoirs I have to read for CBR8. I’m talking about you, Frank Turner and Carrie Brownstein and Elvis Costello and Kirsten Hersch!